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How to Soldered Glass Art Jewelry

Updated on March 13, 2017
Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell is a jewelry and watercolor artist. She currently teaches art to a homeschool co-op highschool class.

Soldered Glass Jewelry, Combining Two Passions, Watercolor and Jewelry Making

In this tutorial I'll be explaining how I make soldered art glass jewelry, because I can't keep a secret. Well, at least when it comes to how I make my jewelry. I've learned so much from other people about how they create their pieces, that I want to help others in their jewelry making journey. Also, when people find out my monetary investment as well as the work that goes into each piece, I think they gain a better understanding and appreciation for handmade items.

Being a watercolor artist for 20 years, and now a jewelry designer for 10 years, I've come up with a way to wear my watercolor paintings as jewelry. I've combined my passion for watercolor painting with my passion for jewelry making. After painting and signing my miniature artwork, I create a frame using glass and solder. Let me show you what I've done.

All photos by Gayle Dowell

Kansas Coneflower

Kansas Coneflower
Kansas Coneflower

First Get the Right Tools

Any art medium or craft takes practice. Learning to control and master a craft takes time. Using the right tools and quality materials gives better results while practicing, keeping frustration to a minimum. My first advice is to find a good quality soldering iron that allows temperature control. Buying different sized soldering tips allow work on different sized pieces. For jewelry I use a small tip, 1/8 inch. I use the Weller 100 watt soldering iron.

Purchasing a thermostat keeps the soldering iron at a constant temperature. A good heavy soldering stand is a must for safety. I have one that includes a sponge to keep my soldering iron tip clean. A third hand or some type of large clip are good for holding my piece while I solder as it keeps my hands from getting burned from the iron or the work as it heats up.

Soldering Tools

Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station
Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station

You will need a 100 watt soldering iron. This one has a stand included and is a reasonable price with good reviews.

 

The Lamb

The Lamb
The Lamb

Next Gather Up Some Basic Supplies

Besides tools that will last, supplies will be needed for creating the piece. Glass tiles, jewelry grade lead-free solder, adhesive backed copper tape, gel soldering flux, steel wool, solder polish, an old paint brush, and a bone folder are just some of the basic supplies that are needed besides the artwork that will be placed between the glass.

Glass tiles can be found in all shapes and sizes, beveled or not beveled, and colored or clear.

It's important to calculate the thickness of the piece with the art and the two pieces of glass before purchasing copper tape as the tape comes in different thicknesses depending on the thickness of the piece. Silver back copper tape is good to use if the piece is transparent and the back can be seen through the art. It is best to match the adhesive side of the tape color with the resulting color of your solder. If the piece will be darkened with chemicals, use the black backed tape. For my work any copper tape will work as I fill the whole glass area with my art and the back cannot be seen through the piece. For a more decorative look, wavy copper tape is available.

Using a gel flux is recommended as liquid flux can leak under the adhesive to your art between the glass.

There are different types of solder, be sure to use lead-free solder if making jewelry. I use Canfield Silvergleem. It produces a high shine and contains a good amount of sterling silver. It melts at 430°F and has instant freeze which lets the artist sculpt designs with the solder. I've also used Canfield - DGS which is a less expensive alternative, but is still lead-free, contains some silver and is easy to use.

Glass Tiles for Soldered Art

Ranger Inkssentials Memory Glass, Clear Rectangle, 1-Inch by 3-Inch, 24/Pkg
Ranger Inkssentials Memory Glass, Clear Rectangle, 1-Inch by 3-Inch, 24/Pkg

Rectangular pendants are popular. These rectangle memory glass tiles are a great size for pendants for necklaces.

 

Copper Tape

An assortment of copper tapes in different widths to accommodate different glass thicknesses for different projects. You need to measure your two pieces of glass with your art inserted between. Use a tape thickness that will give you about 1/8" extra overlap on both sides, or a total of 1/4" extra.

1/2 inch x 55 yds Copper Foil Tape - (12mm x 50m) EMI Shielding Conductive Adhesive Tape
1/2 inch x 55 yds Copper Foil Tape - (12mm x 50m) EMI Shielding Conductive Adhesive Tape

Amazon carries many different widths of copper foil tapes for all thicknesses of work. Be sure to check them out.

 

Flux and Other Supplies

Lead Free Silvergleem Solder Wire - 1/2 Lb Spool
Lead Free Silvergleem Solder Wire - 1/2 Lb Spool

Lead free solder is best for jewelry. I use the Silvergleem because of the higher silver content over other solders.

 
Stellar Technical 21-100-22 Classic 100 Gel Flux - 8 Oz
Stellar Technical 21-100-22 Classic 100 Gel Flux - 8 Oz

Flux helps the metal solder to adhere to the copper tape more readily.

 

Stormy Seas

Stormy Seas
Stormy Seas

Resources for Soldered Art

Learning how to solder is easy if you have the right resources to learn. The following book and video are the resources I used to learn how to do this project.

Pretty Little Things: Collage Jewelry, Trinkets and Keepsakes
Pretty Little Things: Collage Jewelry, Trinkets and Keepsakes

This is the book that I used in learning how to do this type of project . Several great projects using not only glass tiles but other glass surfaces.

 

Soldering Videos

Great how-to videos that I used to learn the techniques of soldering.

Practice First to Perfection

The above video will help you learn how to use the soldering iron and how to put together the piece for soldering. After watching the video and gaining information on the process of soldering, it would be good to practice soldering skills before starting on a masterpiece! There is a definite learning curve. Stay relaxed and apply the solder with a light, controlled and consistent touch. Use a thin layer of solder and build up from there. After soldering use steel wool and polish to bring out a nice shine.

Strength of Faith

Strength of Faith
Strength of Faith

Go the Next Step and Add Embellishments

After soldering, embellishments can be added. I use craft wire and shape it into a bail using round nose pliers. I use metal embellishments that are premade and also make my own from wire. Embellishments add a nice touch and make each piece even more unique.

Silver Metal Embellishments and Wire

A collection of assorted embellishments will inspire creativity. Keeping these on hand is always a good idea to generate new ideas. If you do not have or can't find silver-toned embellishments to use, I have used brass and copper metal embellishments and coated the metal with gel flux and a thin coat of solder to match the soldered edges of my glass art.

eCrafty EC-5633 Jewelry Maker's Stamped Metal Charms and Pendants Mix, 50gm
eCrafty EC-5633 Jewelry Maker's Stamped Metal Charms and Pendants Mix, 50gm

I've used non-silver embellishments and coated the metal with a thin coating of solder after a coating of gel flux. Works well for simple designs.

 

Questions or Comments?

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    • Gayle Dowell profile image
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      Gayle Dowell 5 months ago from Kansas

      Bonjour. Non. Je suis désolée.

    • profile image

      Joan Standridge 13 months ago

      I was going to buy the solder iron that you recommended but the reviews were conflicting. A couple said it was not temperature controled and I could not figure out where to order the 1/8 inch tip. Help please

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 2 years ago from Kansas

      Thank you Diana for the sweet complement.

    • Diana Abrahamson profile image

      Diana Abrahamson 2 years ago from t Francis Bay

      Beautiful art in your soldering jewelry pieces. You are very talented!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 3 years ago from Idaho

      Very cool, love the looks of these! Thank you for sharing.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      @sndware: Yes, you will. The solder will not adhere to the china. It will only adhere to some metals.

    • profile image

      sndware 3 years ago

      Do I need to use copper tape to solder china pieces?

    • aminebombom profile image

      Amine 3 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      beautiful idea, from a beautiful person

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      @Susan Zutautas: This has always been my hope: that I could inspire someone to create. I'd love to see what you do!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your pieces are beautiful! You've given me an idea as I do stained glass myself and I may have to try making some jewelry since I have all the supplies and equipment needed. I'd just need to purchase some embellishments.

    • fathomblueEG profile image

      fathomblueEG 3 years ago

      Pure artist you are. Beautiful work. I'm loving it for sure!

    • profile image

      traveldestinations 3 years ago

      Some very cool jewelry.

    • marley101 lm profile image

      marley101 lm 3 years ago

      Realy nice :)

      Thanks for share

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      Very cool. Would love to make a photo frame or a small lamp with these things. Sigh. One day.

    • profile image

      diengiadung 3 years ago

      Thanks You very much

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 3 years ago

      I enjoyed this lens and I learned a great deal

    • Alison Williams profile image

      Alison Williams 3 years ago

      Really pretty and unique jewellery. :)

    • fathomblueEG profile image

      fathomblueEG 3 years ago

      Very beautiful and amazing designs. Thank you for sharing!

    • Nithya Venkat profile image

      Nithya Venkat aka Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great lens, creative and useful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Some beautiful pictures here! Along with fantastic tips!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

      Really beautiful, especially the strength of Faith! Thanks!

    • Maggie42 profile image

      Maggie42 3 years ago

      This is a great informative lens - thanks I would never have considered this something I could do but after reading this I think I can

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 3 years ago

      I'd love to try making this jewellery. So pretty and looks fun to do!

    • profile image

      carol-nobleboshnack 3 years ago

      I love this lens. Do you sell your work? If so please give me a shout at carolboshnack@gmail.com.

    • profile image

      katiesnow 3 years ago

      beautiful..love the lens!

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 3 years ago from Czech Republic

      My favorite is the lamb necklance. Beautiful jewelry by the way!

    • AnonymousC831 profile image

      AnonymousC831 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Great lens.

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 3 years ago

      I love this lens!

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Your pieces are so gorgeous. What a wonderful and beautiful way to turn your paintings into wearable jewelry art. I don't think I could manage all of the skills here, but you definitely have the talent!

    • profile image

      Im2keys 3 years ago

      your work is beautiful! this is something I would love to try

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      @Lionrhod: Thank you for your comment and question. I painted on watercolor paper and then sandwiched the painting between two pieces of glass.

    • Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This is so incredibly beautiful. Thank you. My only question is I'm a little confused on how you incorporated the watercolor and prevented it from getting washed away. Did you paint directly on the glass or sandwich paper in the glass? Either way, gorgeous. You've inspired me.

    • sha-ron profile image

      sha-ron 3 years ago

      I love these different types of crafts always looking for something new to do

    • profile image

      susan369 3 years ago

      Some of those metal embellishments would look so great in digital scrapbooking!

    • NicciRosa profile image

      NicciRosa 3 years ago

      Very beautiful jewelry and works of art! I personally love the Stormy Seas!

    • Charlotte Realtor profile image

      Charlotte Realtor 3 years ago

      Just beautiful! I wish I had more time on my hands to do some of this - it just looks like a wonderfully relaxing craft!

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 3 years ago from Nashville, TN

      They are beautiful. I love "Strength of Faith".

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      @retrochalet: Thank you! Be sure and let me know how your project goes. I'd love to know.

    • retrochalet profile image

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 3 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      hey, this is great, I am so going to do this. I have some vintage ephemera I'd love to set in a necklace. Thanks so much and your work is lovely.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      @TanjaCrouch: These would be a great project for displaying photos. I've seen people make jewelry with their children's school pictures. Makes a great gift for a grandmother.

    • TanjaCrouch profile image

      TanjaCrouch 3 years ago

      I love this lens. I wanted to make some of these with my photographs.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @Stuwaha: Glad it went well, and yes, there is a definite learning curve.

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      @Gayle Dowell: It went well, still have a lot to learn though in terms of technique. :)

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @Stuwaha: I'm excited for you! Let me know how it goes!

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      Finally got all the supplies together and ready to break out the soldier tonight. Very excited. Thank you again for introducing me to this craft :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very pretty !

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @anonymous: Glad that this helped!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you so much, perfect for the beginner. I was a little lost until I saw this :D

    • steadytracker lm profile image

      steadytracker lm 4 years ago

      Wow, those are really cool looking. Great job with the lens and the art. Thank you for sharing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Your work is beautiful & this has been so helpful! Thank you so much!!

    • profile image

      Beauty27 4 years ago

      lovely....really very beautiful

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      admiring your creativity. thanks for step by step instructions about a wonderful art.

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 4 years ago

      Hi, I tried doing this years ago and enjoyed it. Maybe I should give it another go

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @anonymous: I've never used anything but watercolor paper with my original watercolor paintings. Hope you find a solution. I know that others have done this before with printed material, but just not sure if they used digital images.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @Gayle Dowell: I feel like the only person having trouble with this. I bought matte paper and a semi-gloss paper tonight and I'm going to give that a try. Do you ever use printed images or do you just use pictures from books, etc? I feel like that limits me so much. I tried to print on my inkjet but a lot of the paper says it can't get over a certian heat and that it fades in the sun. not sure how to solve these issues. I also tried covering a little square in diamond glaze and one in modge podge. I'm going to test those tomorrow. Photopaper just seems to want to stick to the glass. :( Thank you for responding!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @anonymous: Hi Molly. Not exactly sure what may be causing the issue. I've not used printed images from a laser printer. If you do not think that the gel flux is seeping under your copper tape, then I'm not sure what is happening. You may try laminating your image to see if that helps, or even print on card stock to see if things change. Wish I could help more. Let me know if you find a cure!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm having trouble with images that have been printed and I haven't found anyone I can ask for help. I thought maybe you could help me. I bought a digital file off etsy of 1x1" square art to use to soldering charms. I took the images to the print shop and had them printed on a laser printer thinking this would prevent the glass and paper from getting weird and making a 'wet' look. It didn't work, sadly. It still got weird. Maybe a combo of the paper/ink and the heat? There is a wet looking spot in the middle of the charm on both sides. When I use images from books I have no problems at all but I'd love to have the ability to use images I've printed. Can anyone help me figure out what I can do to use printed images?

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      These are really pretty!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 4 years ago from Vermont

      I love the way you've combined two artistic talents into a unique craft with this idea. My step daughter is a lapidary and metalsmith but I'd love to be able to preserve tiny artworks or dried flowers using a soldered pendant. I have one, a small Queen Anne's lace in copper, that I bought at a flea market years ago - it's a favorite to wear or to hang on the Christmas tree.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Your jewelry is beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Perfect lens,I will try it as soon as possible:) Thanks for sharing instructions :)

    • kmhrsn profile image

      kmhrsn 4 years ago

      Your work is gorgeous! So creative.

    • profile image

      LUMOSE 4 years ago

      Great lens. Good for a gift idea, but I'm not sure that I am able to make it one.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Bravo. Let me tell you. It's not as easy as you make it look. I agree practice. I haven't done this in a long time, but I think it's time to dig out my supplies. Very inspiring.

    • Sitabodang LM profile image

      Sitabodang LM 4 years ago

      Great lens, congrats on your Purple Star!

    • geosum profile image

      geosum 4 years ago

      Lovely jewelry. Thanks for sharing your techniques.

    • NailArtDesign LM profile image

      NailArtDesign LM 4 years ago

      Love it, great lens. All of the jewelry looks gorgeous :)

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      I've made many keychains with tiny watercolor paintings but never thought that I could make pendants that were actually wearable and attractive. Thank you for this, I'm inspired. :)

    • VineetBhandari profile image

      VineetBhandari 4 years ago

      Great lens :)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      Love your artistic talent as presented here. Beautifully designed and created. As one who previously created stained glass windows, I can very much see myself making this types of jewelry. Thanks for stimulating the artist within.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      You have some very nice designs. I love jewelry and would like to make some.

    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Beautiful and Inspiring - thanks!

    • Sparkler923 profile image

      Sparkler923 4 years ago

      I just love this! I make a lot of beaded jewelry, and I have never tried soldered glass jewelry before, but I think I will have to try this soon. Thanks for introducing me to a new technique.

    • mattcut profile image

      mattcut 4 years ago

      Super-fantastic ! Gorgeous and highly innovative-creative ! Thank you for making this beautious lens !

    • mattcut profile image

      mattcut 4 years ago

      Your handiwork is dazzling !

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Nice share !

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 4 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Thorough tutorial and I think your mix of watercolor and solder has produced lovely results. The craftsmanship is telling and detailed.

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      lovely lens. thanks for sharing about this with us .

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      I am so envious of people with artistic talent. These are just lovely. Thank you.

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 4 years ago

      Some beautiful art jewelry!

    • MonisMas LM profile image

      MonisMas LM 4 years ago

      I make some simple jewelry, but these stuff are so much more fun. And absolutely beautiful!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      These are simply stunning. I don't think I could do this but wish I could. Blessed and a very merry Christmas to you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is very good information, I like it, thank you for sharing. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I noticed that when I was here in September the angel dust didn't take....guess enough time has passed and I'm pleased to bless this gem again.

    • artsybookmom profile image

      artsybookmom 4 years ago

      Beautiful!! Thanks for visiting my lens. I really love this idea and may have to invest in the supplies and do it myself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Awesome work!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I am glad you cannot keep a secret, as I like them, they are really great, thanks for info! Blessings!

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 4 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I really like these. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise! ::::blessed::::

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 4 years ago from UK

      These soldered art glass pieces are so pretty! Thanks for sharing your secrets.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 4 years ago

      Wow! I love the soldering idea! I would love to try that! Blessed!

    • liaaah profile image

      liaaah 4 years ago

      These are great ideas :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I do make a little beaded jewelry now and then, I also used to make stained glass lamps and stuff, making these would be a snap for me - thanks for the great ideas...

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Beautiful, my mother works with stained glass and would probably love this jewelry tutorial as well.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @anonymous: I don't think that it matters. I've just used craft wire that I had on hand.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Does it matter what kind of jump rings and wire you use on your soldering projects? Thank you!

    • CraftyDaddy profile image

      CraftyDaddy 4 years ago

      well done, and a great display of talent.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      These are gorgeous pieces and you are a very talented artist. I am "pinning" this for my artsy followers. Also, thank you for your recent visit!

    • nickybutler profile image

      nickybutler 4 years ago

      Beautiful pieces! I'd love to give this a go

    • Gayle Dowell profile image
      Author

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      @anonymous: Thanks for visiting. I reviewed the videos and at least on my computer, everything seems to be working correctly.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You're solder videos are playing sound & no pictures.